X-Men ’92: Warzones!
by Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, and Scott Koblish
2016 (originally published 2015) • 128 pages • Marvel Comics
The greatest cartoon theme song of all time—and I will fight you on this point—is undoubtedly the theme tune to X-Men: The Animated Series. Composed by Ron Wasserman (who also composed the theme song for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which kind of blew my mind), it’s sixty seconds of iconic synthesizers, illustrated by an opening sequence straight out of a comic book. (My favorite segment: the team crossing the screen from left to right while the word “X-Men” darts by in several directions for no reason.) It’s so good that Michael Kamen snuck in a sly musical reference to it in the score for X-Men. To me, it is the X-Men, although I never watched the show as a kid. (Although I did watch the entirety of season one at a friend’s apartment in college, and shrieked when Mister Sinister smiled for the first time.) When I went to go see X-Men: Days of Future Past at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, you can bet that they played the theme song and that I totally flipped.
There is simply nothing more X-Men. Nothing more radical. Nothing more, dare I say, nineties.
Last year, the big event for the Marvel Universe (and the Ultimate Universe) was Secret Wars—not to be confused with the 1984-1985 miniseries of the same name. This event collided the Marvel Universe with the Ultimate Universe, resulting in Battleworld, a world created of different zones populated by different iterations of Marvel characters from across time and space. and… that’s all I got, folks. I’m a busy lady and Star Wars owns my soul these days, so I feel no shame in letting you know that I’m not exactly sure what Secret Wars accomplished, but I’m glad it seems to have worked out fine.
Nonetheless, I am always a fan of Marvel (or DC) letting creators unmoor themselves from the strictures of the current configuration of their universe and riff. This is why I enjoy Elseworlds and other kinds of official AUs. So X-Men ’92, a deliberate callback to X-Men: The Animated Series, naturally appeared to me.
I just didn’t realize how deliberate. X-Men ’92 is as faithful to the animated series as you could hope for, with a heaping helping of camp self-awareness. Storm regally declaims from on high; Jubilee snarks like only a Gen X teenager can; Scott is as self-loathing and conflicted as ever; and Gambit’s Cajun accent is somehow even more cartoonish and inscrutable on the page. (The absolute epitome panel depicting Gambit’s backstory reveals he once wrote a breakup note to a paramour explaining, “It not you, it Gambit.”)
But its story is also centered around the idea of sanitizing the X-Men for public consumption, which is a delightful take on reviving an animated series for kids in the more all-ages arena of mainstream comics. Cassandra Nova, quickly revealed to be an evil clone of Professor X’s, attempts to “recondition” the team along kinder lines, removing things like the sexual tension between Rogue and Gambit and Wolverine’s general… presentation. Of course, Wolverine snaps right back to his old self when someone tells them that Cyclops could totally save them, which made me laugh out loud. I love their deeply petty relationship in the animated series so much, I growl “Tell Scott I made him a convertible” at least once a week.
X-Men ’92—or at least the first five issues collected in Warzones!—is a fun nostalgia trip. And it even boasts the Marvel Universe debut of Jay and Miles of Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men fame!
I rented this book from the public library.